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> [The Goddess declares her identity with all cosmic and worldly entities.]
> 3.12. In me this whole world is woven in all directions,1 O Mountain.
> 3.13. I am the Lord and the Cosmic Soul; I am myself the Cosmic Body.2
> I am Brahma, Vishnu, and Rudra, as well as Gauri, Brahmi, and Vaisnavi.3
> 3.14. I am the sun and the stars, and I am the Lord of the stars.4
> I am the various species of beasts and birds; I am also the outcaste and thief.
> 3.15. I am the evil doer and the wicked deed; I am the righteous person and the virtuous deed.5
> I am certainly female and male, and asexual as well.6
> 3.16. And whatever thing, anywhere,7 you see or hear,
> That entire thing I pervade, ever abiding inside it and outside.8
> 3.17. There is nothing at all, moving or unmoving, that is devoid of me.9
> For if it was, it would be a nonentity,10 like the son of a barren woman.11
> 3.18. Just as a single rope may appear variously as a serpent or wreath,
> So also I may appear in the form of the Lord and the like; there is no doubt in this matter.12
> 3.19. The world cannot appear without an underlying basis.
> Accordingly, the world comes by only through my own being and in no other way.
> The Goddess begins her cosmotheisitc self-predications with reference to the Upanisadic notion that all the universe is woven upon the supreme, here identified, of course, with the Goddess herself. That is, everything is composed or tied together within the Goddess, who pervades all things. Then, resorting to the dramatic "I am
" formulations made famous by Krsna in the Bhagavad Gita, she proceeds to establish her identity with all beings and abstract entities in every dimension and at every level of the universe. And like Krsna, she is both female and male, but she is more thorough in elaborating on her gendered pairsshe goes beyond Krsna in representing not only the male members of the Trimurti, but the female as well.
> In verse 16, echoing the Mundaka Upanisad, the Goddess affirms that she exists both within and without all things. Such a statement clearly indicates the sort of cosmotheistic vision she is promulgating, a vision that definitely transcends simple pantheism. She explicitly denies here that she is only to be identified with the universe. Rather, she is both identical with and different from the cosmos.13
> The famous Advaitic analogy of the rope and serpent (along with the wreath) presented in verse 18 appears also in Devi Gita 1.50. A lengthy note (16) on that verse indicated that the Devi Gita's use of the verb bha ("to shine forth," "to show oneself," as well as "to appear") suggests a more creative, less illusionistic aspect of Maya than what we find in Advaita. In this verse here, the Goddess may be seen as shining forth (vibha/bha) or projecting an image of herself as the Lord and other aspects of the material world.
> The less illusionistic emphasis would accord well with the surrounding cosmotheistic context, as well as with the general Tantric leanings of the Devi Gita. As one contemporary scholar explains: "The peculiar metaphysical standpoint of the Tantras in the context of creation consists in the theory of Abhasa ["reflection"]. It rejects the Vivartavada [mere-appearance school] of the Vedanta, as it is now-a-days interpreted. The Tantras, on the other hand, hold that the world is real in the same way as an image is real but it has no existence apart from the medium in which it is manifested. The manifestation of the universe is thus a process of Abhasa and for the initiation of this process nothing beyond the play of the Will (the free will/Svatantrya of the Absolute) is needed
.. To a Tantrist the world is real and it is the expression of the cit sakti/free will of the Lord and it is really spiritual in essence like the Lord Himself. In the last resort the world turns back into the cit sakti which is never withdrawn."14 If one substitutes the Goddess for the Lord in this statement, we have a good summary of the general cosmogonic standpoint of the Devi Gita. While at times the Devi Gita presents a more Advaitic, acosmic view of the world, its general standpoint, as well as that of the Devi-Bhagavatam as a whole, seems to be much more world accepting and validating.
> C. MacKenzie Brown, The Devi Gita: The Song of the Goddess
> State University of New York Press (September 1998) pp. 118-20
> Notes .....
1. protam o tam ca; literally, "woven crosswise and lengthwise." Cf. Brhadaranyaka Upanisad 3.6, where Gargi asks Yajnavalkya a series of questions regarding the ultimate basis of the universe. She first inquires, since this world is woven crosswise and lengthwise (otam ca protam ca) on water, on what is water woven crosswise and lengthwise? Yajnavalkya replies "air." Gargi and Yajnavalkya then proceed from air, through the various worlds of the sky, sun, moon, stars, gods, etc., up to the worlds of Brahma. When she asks on what are the worlds of Brahman woven, Yajnavalkya tells Gargi that her questioning may make her head fall off since she is asking too much about a divinity that is not to be excessively questioned. Gargi desists for a while, but then, in 3.8, continues with two more questions. The first concerns the underlying basis of the entire spatial-temporal realm, to which Yajnavalkya answers "space." As to what space is woven upon, the answer is "the imperishable" (aksara, that is Brahman). In the Devi Gita the imperishable is the Goddess.
2. Cf. 1.49, 2.47-48 above.
3. The self-predications in this and the following two verses are loosely modelled on the "I am
" sayings of the Bhagavad Gita (7.8-11; 9.16-18; 10.20-38). In Bhagavad Gita 10.21-29, Krsna identifies himself with the best of a number of classes of beings and gods, including Visnu and Siva, but mentions no goddesses (though some female and feminine entities [in 10.34] are mentioned). The Devi Gita in this verse, significantly, gives equal emphasis to the male and female aspects of the Trimurti.
4. tarakesa; literally, "lord of stars," i.e. "the moon."
In Bhagavad Gita 10.21, Krsna says, "I am the sun among radiant lights
I am the moon among the stars."
5. Cf. Bhagavad Gita 10.36, where Krsna declares: "I am the gambling of deceivers
I am the virtue of the righteous."
6. In Bhagavad Gita 9.17, Krsna asserts: "I am the father of the world, the mother
." Cf. Svetasvatara Upanisad 4.3: "You (the supreme Lord) are woman, you are man, you are the young boy and young maiden too."
7. Cf. Devi Mahatmya 1.63: "And whatever thing, anywhere, exists, real or unreal
. of all that you (the Goddess) are its power."
8. Cf. Mundaka Upanisad 2.1.2, where the formless Purusa is said to exist "inside and outside (all things)." The Devi Gita in this chapter has utilized several verses from Mundaka 2.1 (see verses 3.23cd-24, 46-51 below). Cf. Bhagavad Gita 10.16, where Arjuna declares that Krsna ever pervades the worlds with his supernatural manifestations.
9. Cf. Bhagavad Gita 10.39cd, where Krsna declares: "There is nothing that exists, moving or unmoving, without me."
10. sunya; glossed by Nilakantha as "nonexistent" (asat), in contrast to the Goddess who is "existent" (sat-rupa).
11. The analogy of the barren woman's son is commonly used in Advaita to illustrate the meaning of absolute nonexistence, over against the qualified existence of this somewhat real, somewhat illusory world. Cf. the Comment of Devi Gita 2.1.-11ab.
12. See note 16 on Devi Gita 1.50, where this same rope-serpent-wreath analogy is also used, and see the Comment above.
13. The philosopher W. T. Stace defines the term pantheistic in a non-traditional way that could be applied to the teachings of the Goddess in the Devi Gita. Stace rejects the more conventional notion of pantheism, that the universe as a whole is God and that God is nothing but the sum of all material energies and forces. Stace's definition reinterprets the term as affirming the paradox that the world is both "identical with God" and at the same time "distinct from, that is to say, not identical with God" (Mysticism and Philosophy, p. 212).
While I personally like Stace`s redefinition, it is perhaps too unconventional and uncommon so that to use the term pantheism would be misleading to many readers. The term in its traditional sense does not apply to any Hindu text or viewpoint of which I am aware. Hindus frequently do assert that "God is the universe," but equally, and usually simultaneously, they add "and God is more." See, for instance, the famous "Purusa Sukta" of the Rg Veda (10.90), where the Purusa who becomes the world is also said to extend "ten fingers beyond it," a marvelous poetic rejection of the traditional conception of pantheism (cf. Edgerton, The Bhagavad Gita, pp. 148-49). Interestingly, Stace relies heavily on the Upanisads in justifying his definition of pantheism.
I have used the term cosmotheism to describe the attitude of the Devi Gita. This term, while sometimes used as a synonym for pantheism, does not seem to me to carry the same absolute sense of total identification between God, or the Goddess, and the world. Cosmotheism refers to the view that the cosmos is divine and is the Goddess, but does not necessarily assume that the cosmos is all. Thus, room is left for the notion that the Goddess may be the cosmos and something else as well.
14. Basu, Fundamentals of the Philosophy of Tantras, pp. 211-12.
15. Satu Gita 2.8-14.
16. E.g., Suta Gita 2.5.